A conversation with Renuka Salinger, Vice President of Franchise Development for Camp Bow Wow®
In any given year, fewer than 20,000 people in the United States become franchisees of one of the 3,600 franchised business. With the incredible rise in the amount of information available online, using a well-thought out web strategy to attract qualified franchise sales leads has become of prime importance. Cutting through the noise and clutter encountered by the franchise buyer is EVERYTHING. Nothing else matters.
Joe Mathews, franchise sales expert and founder and CEO of Franchise Performance Group (FPG), a company that helps franchisors create and execute online strategies to increase franchise sales, believes the total number of leads a franchisor receives is irrelevant. “There are leads and there are buyers,” he says. “They aren’t the same people.” Mathews encourages his clients to focus on attracting the engaged buyers rather than trying to appeal to the millions of people who visit sites and do nothing. He also encourages franchisors to think through a new lens: “Fewer leads, more deals.”
One example is FPG client College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving. Using Mathews’ strategy, they went from recruiting 5 new franchisees in both 2013 and 2014 to 25 new franchisees in 2015. For 2016, they are tracking a 25% increase in new franchisee recruitment, even though total leads are down 5%-10% over 2015, depending on the month.
“If you know who the buyer is and understand the value of the brand, lead generation is simple,” Mathews says. “It’s about intersecting buyers who are already looking for what the franchisor offers at their point of interest. And at their point of interest, they are all looking online. It’s that simple — not EASY, but simple.”
Quality franchise opportunities just need to be shared, not sold.
FPG’s strategy is to generate traffic to the franchise opportunity website through PPC, SEM, social media and other forms of buyer traffic, and then tell the franchisor’s story in an honest and compelling way.
“We don’t hype, sugarcoat or pitch the franchisor’s concept. A valuable franchisor can stand on the merits of their business model. Valuable franchisors just need their story told, not sold,” said Mathews. “Buyers don’t want to be hyped, sold or pitched. They want to be informed.”
FPG believes the copy on the website is like having a straight-shooting conversation with a potential buyer. The website has to answer specific questions buyers have, such as:
- What makes this business unique, profitable, necessary to the customer, and sustainable for the long haul?
- What does it take to win as a franchisee? What is the profile of a successful franchisee?
Franchise candidates who are not a fit often discover this on a company’s franchise opportunity website and self-select out of the process.
Mathews described how many franchisors think about lead generation the wrong way. “If a franchisor was looking for a key employee for their leadership team, they wouldn’t make it their goal to flood their inboxes with resumes from unqualified candidates. They’d make job posts that detailed specifically what they were looking for, discouraging those who didn’t fit from applying. Yet, when it comes to lead generation, they think differently. Their mantra often appears to be ‘more leads, more leads, more leads.’ Then they cripple their franchisee recruiters, forcing them to focus too much time on the front end, leaving them not enough time to make ‘the money calls’ on the back end.”
How Camp Bow Wow Generates Qualified Buyers
Another FPG client is Camp Bow Wow®, a high-end doggy day care franchise. Renuka Salinger, Camp Bow Wow’s Vice President of Franchise Development, recently sat down to chat with us about how Franchise Performance Group’s strategy has impacted their business.
What were you doing for franchise marketing before you hooked up with FPG?
I’ll be honest, we just had our PR firm do that work for us. They’ve been great at securing national and local opportunities. They’re really good, but franchising is not their number one forte.
How did you end up partnering with Franchise Performance Group?
I met the founder, Joe Mathews, at the Franchise Leader and Development Conference in Atlanta in 2015. He had so much knowledge about the industry, I was really impressed.
How do they fit into your marketing plan?
When we brought Franchise Performance Group on, there were a few things that we wanted them to do. One was to help us create a brand new franchise sales website. We had always handled that internally, and our website was stale and kind of out-of-date. We were running on more of an old-school mentality that the fewer pages and the less information that you have available, the easier it is for candidates to navigate and fill out forms. We also had the old-school mentality that the franchise sales recruiter is the gatekeeper of information and that you really just need to get candidates on the phone with you.
From what I understand, there have been quite a few changes to that mentality within the industry over the last 5 years. FPG helped us shift to providing much more content to candidates online and allowing them to do much more self-education about our brand. That has shown some great benefits and results for us already.
Who is creating all of that new content?
We use Franchise Performance Group for continued content creation for the website to keep it fresh and engaging, as well as for support in creating email drip campaigns or information to be disseminated to candidates.
They also provide interview opportunities whether internal with them or external. Then there’s mentoring. Joe’s been a really fantastic mentor for me as well as for other team members regarding franchise sales and recruitment, as well as franchising in general.
What would be the biggest difference that a potential franchisee would see between your old site and what they might find now on your site?
Way more content. We went from basically having one static page, which was part of our normal consumer site, to having a separate franchise sales site that has many pages of content on it.
What type of information can a candidate learn on the franchise sales site?
The site reviews our history in the industry and the basics of the investment. For instance, how much does it cost to get a Camp Bow Wow up and running, what are the details of that. We also provide Item 19 information, which is a part of our Financial Disclosure Document and contains all of our financial performance information in great detail. We even provide information from Item 7, which details all of the start-up costs involved.
We really give the candidate a taste of what’s available with our franchise before they commit to sending us their contact information.
How is your franchise development department set up?
The way Franchise Performance Group helped us set up our department is that I have two recruiters or Directors of Franchise Sales who divide the country, east and west, and then I also have a Lead Qualifier reviewing the investment, the liquid capital that would be required, net worth requirements, confirming that the territory that they would be interested in is available and reviewing the timeline for their decision. This way we can gauge if it’s the appropriate time to begin working with them.
We have definitely seen good results from it. The reason why I think the Lead Qualifier role is worth having is that it helps elevate our recruiters to focus on those who are actually prequalified and ready to move forward and explore the offering. Because the intro calls can be time intensive. Just getting things scheduled and moving forward takes time, and the lead qualifier really helps that. It takes that off our Directors of Franchise Sales and gives them more bandwidth to focus on high-level sales rather than intro calls, which in general can be very repetitive.
Have you found an uptick in the amount of leads coming through the new site?
In the first month we didn’t see very much change at all. We had a similar level of overall leads, a similar level of qualified leads, but in the following two months we saw a drop in total leads, but we had a significant increase in qualified leads.
Historically we usually got about 3,000 leads a year, which in franchising is a lot, and those are 99% web-based leads. It doesn’t mean they’re all qualified leads, but high levels of interest, and that was even when the economy was down and we weren’t closing as many franchise sales.
That said, it’s very exciting for me this year because in the last year, since 2015 was so good for us in franchise sales, I did 19 sales by myself and then I was able to hire on a team. I did structure that team in the way that Franchise Performance Group recommended and it was based on best practices for teams, as well as our goals as a company. We firmly believe that we are going to hit between 20 and 30 closed sales by the end of the year, with the majority of those being new units. That’s very exciting.
Although in July and August the total lead count started dropping with the new website, we noticed a dramatic increase in the qualified lead count. Typically, we range anywhere from 20% to 35% of our leads in a given month being qualified. In July and August, we are at over 50% of the leads being qualified and engaged, and that’s the highest we have ever had as a company. That’s very exciting and promising for us.
What do you think accounts for the jump from 20% to 35% qualified leads up to 50%? Why are the people who aren’t qualified making it through? What’s changed?
I think that the total lead count has been dropping because those who are not qualified are self-selecting out, mainly because they’re seeing and getting access to more information that better informs them as to whether or not they would truly be able to do this. Then on the flip side, I think that the qualified lead application is improving because they are enjoying the content that’s out there and also better educating themselves and deciding to go ahead and take that next step.
Based on the trends I’m seeing from the last several months, our total lead flow may end up being down year over year, but if we continue to see the increased qualified lead flow for the rest of this year, then that would be fantastic, and I would consider that a success.
Having leads that just self-select out and don’t even come into the funnel, that really helps to save us money, because time is money at the end of the day. It’s been very exciting to work with Franchise Performance Group and do all the things that we’ve done and see the results. I really think it was getting the right team into place, along with a new website and really fantastic content that has helped to drive this. I’m very excited about it, not only because we have improved results, but also because this is the experience that I’ve heard that others had also, such as Wild Birds Unlimited, College Hunks Hauling Junk and others.
I really would recommend to others who are in my position to really evaluate their site as well as their franchise sales team, and even their process for franchise sales and exploration, because there may be things that you’re doing just because that’s how it was always done or what you were taught, but really, if you don’t evolve with what the buyer needs and wants, you could be losing prospects unnecessarily.
Want to start a conversation with Franchise Performance Group?
You can click here to contact us, or download our free franchise sales strategy eBook: How to Create a Franchise Sales Breakthrough. Guaranteed.
For more information about FPG lead generation or website design services, reach out to Joe Mathews, CEO of FPG at 860.309.1484 or email Joe@FranchisePerformanceGroup.com